The African Spirit Pulsates: 'Crown of Clay'

Submitted by Ikenna Okeh on Sun, 05/02/2021 - 11:07

The lyrics of the awakening African spirit

Soon as you begin listening to Crown Of Clay, you’re confronted with a sudden realization that you’ve begun to treat your mind to a cocktail of premium Hip-Hop sounds and lyrics concocted with a dash of magic. Just at once, the chorus sucks you into its ethereal ambiance at the same time that MI’s voice whets your senses with his lyrical intro; a foretaste of what to expect along the three minutes approximate duration of this remarkable musical journey.

The chorus sucks you into its ethereal ambiance at the same time that MI’s voice whets your senses

Anyone with a little background knowledge on the musical careers of the contributing artists on this project would have no reason to be surprised that Crown of Clay is the classic that it is. MI and Vector have each taken their rightful places on the highest echelons of the African rap space, distinguishing themselves by dint of the erudition and social consciousness with which they approach and deliver music. Pheelz on the other hand, have had a long career in songwriting and production and has worked with every major Afrobeat artist in Nigeria.

MI and Vector have each taken their rightful places on the highest echelons of the African rap space

In talking about the merits of this song, it is best we begin from the chorus which in every respect is a treat, not for the ear, but for the spirit of the listener; awakening and preparing it for a choice offering cooked up by the best, and for the deserving. Such an ensemble of voices hasn’t graced the Nigerian music scene in a very long while, and it seats perfectly with the atmosphere of the music.

Such an ensemble of voices hasn’t graced the Nigerian music scene in a very long while

Lyrically, Crown of Clay is culturally awakening and every one of the contributing artists brings their different blends of this theme to the table. Vector comes on charged with social justice, making mention of the political situation in Uganda’s sham of a presidential election that saw the persecution of Bobby Wine; one of the presidential aspirants who dared to contest against an incumbent who’s been in power for thirty-five years.

Vector also alluded in his rap lyrics to the #EndSARS protests against police brutality that rocked the whole of Nigeria in 2020 and which saw men of the Nigerian army massacre a crowd of peaceful Nigerian youthful protesters in the Lekki area of Lagos. Justice hasn’t been done and the Nigerian government with the backing of foreign diplomatic missions in Nigeria denies the killings, that they never happened, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Vector also alluded in his rap lyrics to the #EndSARS protests against police brutality ... which saw men of the Nigerian army massacre a crowd of peaceful Nigerian youthful protesters

As for MI, he takes on cultural and spiritual awakening with his lyrics. He says “… God was in us before they sent us on slave ships and consecrated Israel and Saudi / that means our villages are holy grounds / our traditions and our names they all have holy sounds …” To someone who’s musically encountered MI before now, they won’t be as much surprised by the quality of his lyrics and the effortless delivery of them in such a manner that conveys the atmosphere of his song as well as his mood. His vocal integrity affords him part of the merit his delivery deserves.

MI takes on cultural and spiritual awakening with his lyrics.

Worthy of note is something that might sound like a detour, but not quite it. Quite recently, there have been discussions on what is generally taught in schools about Mungo Park discovering the River Niger. Among young intellectual circles, especially on social media, young Africans have begun, quite coincidentally, to question the validity of the generally held claim.

Mungo Park, many believed, must have met native communities around the river who had had their growing civilizations thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. Quite coincidentally, two Africans Ikenna Okeh and Onyeka Nwelue co-authored an illustrated children’s book which they titled Saving Mungo Park, and which shares the same line of thought in questioning the validity of the claim that Park discovered the Niger.

Now, here is the reason for this detour; MI Abaga, in Crown of Clay takes on this silently sweeping line of thought.

I discovered hidden flows, tell me, who the fuck is Mungo Park? White supremacist Uncle Park

It won’t be out of place to connect the dots and make an educated guess that there is some cultural and spiritual awakening pulsating in parts of Africa. And Vector rightly points to this in his lyrics, saying that African voices are now too many and can’t be shut down because the ancestors were once outspoken and brave. He cited King Jaja as an example; a slave boy who rose to become one of the most influential African kings of global importance prior to the colonization of the coastal areas of what is now known as Nigeria.

African voices are now too many and can’t be shut down because the ancestors were once outspoken and brave.

Pheelz, in his lyrics exalts the strength and resilience that is derived from coming to terms with the African ancestry and the realization that one comes from the bloodline of African ancestors who were custodians of so much that the universe afforded men of the time.

Predominant in the sparse instrumental selection is the drum, going in tandem with the enchanting ambient chorus. Ingenious! The instrumental arrangement is very informed and done to suit the dynamics of the song in a most appealing way.

Listening to the song, one can’t fail to attempt to seek the underlying philosophy behind the title Crown of Clay. Perhaps it is the knowledge that one’s ancestry is a bloodline of royalty in whose custody is the essence of the earth and life itself with its many secrets translating into spirituality and wealth.

One can’t fail to attempt to seek the underlying philosophy behind the title 'Crown of Clay'.

MI and Vector had been at logger heads for quite some time, coming after each other with diss tracks that quite entertained and thrilled their listeners. Surprisingly, they have come together, with Pheelz, unified in their acknowledgement of identity and spirituality, to offer this anthem for the awakening African spirit to feed on and draw vitality from.